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Types of out-of-home care

Out-of-home care is a broad term for different types of care for children who are under the guardianship of the minister and are unable to live with their parents.

In most cases, children in out-of-home care are also under a Care and Protection Order.

Out-of-home care includes the following types of care placements.

Foster care

Foster carers provide a safe and secure home for children who are unable to stay with their birth family. Children in foster care can be any age from birth to 18 years.

Children and young people in foster care may have contact with their birth family while they are living with a foster carer. This is arranged by the Department for Child Protection (DCP).

There are a number of different types of foster care available as well.

For more information see becoming a foster carer.

Special foster care arrangements can also be made for refugee children who have been granted a permanent visa.


See adoptions for more information about adopting a child.

Kinship care

Kinship carers are people who care for children who are either related to them (blood relations) or who have a relationship with the child, their family or community.

When a child is unable to live with their birth family, the department will try to find a kinship carer. This is important as it helps the child maintain a connection with their family and community.

Aboriginal children

Kinship care is the most common form of placement for Aboriginal children who are unable to live with their birth families.

Caring by relatives is common in many cultures, but the term kinship care can have different meanings for different cultural groups.

In Aboriginal communities, kin may be a relative of the child or someone who shares a cultural or community connection.

Residential care

Children placed into residential care will live in a residential care facility with a number of other children who are also in out-of-home care.

Residential care facilities are staffed with DCP employees or carers from non-government organisations. 

Guardianship Family Day Care

In 2017, the department implemented the Guardianship Family Day Care (GFDC) response, which provides short term family-based care to children under 6 while seeking kinship or foster care placements. 

This is another option for young children in an emergency situation, but it is only used when no foster or kinship carer can be located. 

The program was established by an Memorandum of Administrative Agreement between the Department for Education and the Department for Child Protection.

There is a small number of Family Day Care educators who provide 24/7 care for children and sibling groups.

All of the children in the GFDC response have active placement requests and ongoing discussions are held with NGO services about carer capacity. There is also a continued search for kinship carers.

The department is working with NGO services to build the capacity of the care system to ensure sufficient foster and kinship carers are available to meet the need for care in emergencies, as well as when children are on short term orders.